Maths can be stimulating and satisfying, or it can be dry, mind-numbing and anxiety-inducing. As
educators we know the difference between activities that belong to each group. We're pretty good
at designing programmes which are rich and foster deeper levels of thinking. When it comes to e-
learning, however, that programme design doesn't seem to transfer. Many teachers just put their
notes online and make self-marking quizzes.
Firstly, I have absolutely no problem with online notes and self-marking quizzes. They're efficient and useful for our students, allowing them to access learning outside of class time and allowing us to reduce admin workload. It's worthwhile. It's engaging.
But if that's where we stop, then we're not enhancing the learning. These types of activities sit in the Substitution stage of the SAMR model for technology integration. And while there's nothing wrong with the Substitution stage - indeed sometimes it might be the best tool for the job on a specific day - we do need to keep pushing for that richer learning.
But if that's where we stop, then we're not enhancing the learning. These types of activities sit in the
been continuing along those same lines, running further iterations with that trial activity as well as
I'm on a mission to find the "good stuff". Why should social sciences get all the nice rich e-learning activities, I ask myself? I shared a bit about my own e-learning journey last year in a post for Connected Educator Month, where I mentioned an activity that I had been trialling. This year I've been continuing along those same lines, running further iterations with that trial activity as well as designing some more.
One activity in particular was both successful and a failure. That in itself was useful for me to remember that there is no one activity - e-learning or otherwise - which will magically engage and inspire and equip and challenge every one of the students in my class.
The activity was an investigation for NCEA Level One Relationships topic. I showed the students how to use Desmos and GeoGebra, gave them the assessment rubric and investigation questions and
away they went. For me, the hard part was writing the rubric (download Word or PDF), as this can
be pretty time consuming unless it's your kind of thing. (It's not my kind of thing.)
For the students, the hard part was the lack of structure. Some students needed a bit more guidance, so for the next iteration of this activity I will add in some differentiation and more concrete prompts for those who need it. Other students LOVED this activity. They really liked the open nature of the investigation and that they could go where their curiosity took them, guided by the rubric to ensure they still met the learning objectives for the activity.
My main takeaways from this activity were: Open investigation still needs differentiated structure and guidance, but overall worked
Access to reliable technology is still an issue!
All students - including those who preferred a more structured model - said that they found
using Desmos and GeoGebra to be extremely helpful
Providing hard notes is essential - I used this investigation as the main learning activity for
quadratic relationships, but after student feedback I made this notes handout to summarise
the learning objectives and make sure they had concrete notes to study for the assessment.
All in all, it was successful with room for improvement. Let me know what you've tried!